FERNANDES FUNERAL SLATED FOR SATURDAY

Above, former Mayor Maria Fernandes, seen being interviewed by a TV news crew in 2008. Below, bunting blows in the breeze at Sea Bright’s borough hall Monday in her honor. (Click to enlarge)

Details of the funeral for the late Maria Fernandes, the former Sea Bright mayor, were announced Monday in the SeaBreeze, the borough newsletter.

Dear SeaBreeze Subscribers,

For those of you who have not heard the news, with regret, we report that Honorable Maria Fernandes passed away yesterday morning.

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FORMER SEA BRIGHT MAYOR DIES

Maria Fernandes in 2008. (Click to enlarge)

Former Mayor Maria Fernandes of Sea Bright has died, redbankgreen has confirmed.

She passed away at about 10 a.m. Sunday at Monmouth Medical in Long Branch, where she’d been taken by borough emergency volunteers two nights ago for difficulty breathing, according to Councilman Read Murphy, who was on the EMS call.

We’ll have more details Monday.

SEA BRIGHT MAKING PROGRESS ON EYESORES

31-new-stThis vacant home on New Street is set to be demolished within a month, officials said. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mayor Maria Fernandes’s revived crusade to clean up or raze dilapidated buildings in Sea Bright is slowly paying dividends, she says.

But there’s still a long way to go, including the drafting of an ordinance that punishes negligent property owners — “slumlords,” she’s called them.

“There’s some more work that needs to be done,” said Fernandes, who resurrected the dilapidated buildings discussion two months ago, after it had been mothballed some years back.

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SEA BRIGHT NAMES NEW ADMINISTRATOR

sea-bright-boro-hallStepping into borough hall as Sea Bright’s new administrator is Plumsted’s former top official. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just a couple weeks before Maryann Smeltzer says sayonara to Sea Bright, the borough council has hired a replacement for the retiring administrator.

Next in line for the top administrative slot — and clerk duties, too — is Richard Kachmar, a 59-year-old Howell resident who last served as Plumsted’s administrator for 13 years before the budget ax loomed.

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THE WEEK IN REARVIEW: MAY 8-14, 2011

dinerA painter finishes off a welcome sign in the window of Broadway Diner. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A roundup of articles appearing last week here on redbankgreen is below.

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SEA BRIGHT FIREFIGHTERS HEAD TO COURT

sb-fire-truck1Three Sea Bright firefighters will face charges stemming from an altercation during the wet-down party for this new fire truck in October. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Sea Bright’s government held its annual reorganization meeting at the beginning of the year, notably missing from the appointments were two slots for line officers on the fire department.

Five months later, the assistant chief and second lieutenant roles have yet to be filled.

That’s because the two volunteers in line for those positions, a pair of brothers, are awaiting a court hearing for an alleged assault – against a fellow firefighter, who also has charges against him.

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IT’S MAYOR v. EX-MAYOR OVER ‘MONSTROSITY’

dilapidatedMayor Maria Fernandes wants to see dilapidated buildings, like this one owned by ex-Mayor JoAnn Kalaka-Adams, cleaned up and in better shape in Sea Bright. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes is setting her sights on a number of eyesore properties in town, and plans to go after their “slumlords,” one of them being a former nemesis who’s running for her post later this year.

Fernandes, who recently received an official report highlighting dilapidated buildings in town, is resurrecting withered discussions — and perhaps a political fray — to put an enforcement ordinance in place to get unsightly buildings into shape.

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SEA BRIGHT: X MARKS THE WRONG SPOT

murphy-plansCouncilman Read Murphy goes over revised beachfront development plans, assuring residents that the library is not going to be razed. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Sea Bright borough council, in a rush job to dot its i’s and cross its t’s on a major beachfront development plan, apparently forgot to look out for the x’s.

It was an “oversight,” an “honest mistake,” council members said, as they took a minor scolding from residents who thought the borough library was going to get bulldozed.

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FERNANDES: ONE AND DONE AS MAYOR

m-fernandesMaria Fernandes says she won’t seek another term as mayor. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Backing off an assertion at the beginning of the year that she’ll be back for a mayoral race, Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes said Wednesday she will not seek a second term.

“I served the council and the town very well,” Fernandes, 58, said. “I put in a number of years in this town and my accomplishments were good. It’s time for me to go.”

Fernandes, a Democrat who’s recovering from a partial leg amputation, did not give any specific reason for her decision, other than wanting to focus more on her personal life.

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SEA BRIGHT SPENDING DOWN, TAXES UP

read-murphyCouncilman Read Murphy reads an overview of Sea Bright’s budget Tuesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A drop in revenues and increases in costs will drive taxes up in Sea Bright this year, despite the borough’s slash in spending, officials announced on Tuesday.

The council introduced its $5.19 million spending plan for 2011 Tuesday night, a $152,600, or 3 percent, decrease from last year’s budget.

But that won’t translate to a decrease in the tax rate.

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SEA BRIGHT BONDS TO FIX A CRACK GONE BAD

sb-council-chambersSea Bright’s council chambers is cordoned off with plastic as it’s being used as a temporary storage area for the eastern wing of borough hall.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright Borough Hall. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving — and makes you keep paying for it.

It’s that pesky wall with the crack in it that’s revealing itself to be an even bigger headache than anticipated, with every look-see uncovering a new problem.

“It’s just been one thing after another,” said borough Engineer Jackie Flor.

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SEA BRIGHT MAYOR ROLLS BACK INTO ACTION

m-fernandesMaria Fernandes returned to Sea Bright Borough Hall Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s been a hellish five months for Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes.

She underwent foot surgery at the beginning of September. A week later, she suffered a mild stroke, sidelining her from her official duties. Then, in her recovery, an infection forced her to have her left leg amputated just below the knee.

“It wouldn’t let go,” Fernandes said of the infection. “I suffered like a dog.”

But she says she’s back now, and ready to get to work — not that she was ever that far from it.

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IN RECOVERY, MAYOR ISSUES CRITICISM

keelerMayor Maria Fernandes, below, issued criticism to Council President William Keeler, right, and suggested holding off reappointing borough Attorney Joe Oxley, left. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

maria-fernandes-2007Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes may have lost a limb, but she hasn’t lost any of her bite.

Fernandes, who’s been recovering from a mild stroke suffered in October, recently had her left leg amputated just below the knee. She’s laid up at Monmouth Medical Center, which prevented her from attending Saturday’s annual borough government  reorganization meeting.

But that didn’t stop her from making herself heard. And Fernandes blasted her elected counterparts via letter.

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SEA BRIGHT MAYOR SUFFERS MILD STROKE

keelerCouncil President William Keeler is filling the role of mayor while Maria Fernandes recovers from a mild stroke. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes is in a rehabilitation center after suffering a mild stroke about two weeks ago, officials said Tuesday.

Council President William Keeler is filling in for Fernandes, as he has the last three council meetings, until she’s well enough to return to the dais.

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SEA BRIGHT MAYOR LASHES OUT AT COUNCIL

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes has had it with the borough council, and she’s not mincing words about it. seabright1b1

The mayor, a Democrat, frustrated by years of what she says is council wheel-spinning, intransigence and, in some cases, conflicts of interest, is calling out her counterparts on the council. All but one of them.

“The chickens are coming home to roost,” Fernandes told redbankgreen. “I am fed up with this council. This council is the worst council I’ve ever been on.”

But one of her targets, Councilman Read Murphy, a Republican who routinely spars with Fernandes at council meetings, dismisses her lashing out as politicking.

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COURT SHARING SPARKS DEBATE

sb-oport-sign1Sea Bright officials dispute how well a new shared service with Oceanport is working out. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There are  two ways Sea Bright officials describe one of its latest shared services agreements with a nearby town: just fine and a nightmare.

Nearly six months into an agreement to have Oceanport provide municipal court services for the borough, there’s a divide on the council whether it’s really working. Councilman Read Murphy says no. Mayor Maria Fernandes says yes.

“Nobody’s happy over there,” Murphy said.”People think it’s a joke.”

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BUDGET ITEMS STRAINING SEA BRIGHT

sb-dpw-truckOfficials have imposed austerity measures on road repairs and other public works projects. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Not long after adopting the town’s annual spending plan, Sea Bright officials are moving their fingers toward the panic button on a couple line items that are already nearing their established limits.

At the forefront of the strain are legal fees, which have run much higher than expected, and appear to be increasing partisan tensions at the borough council. Adding to the fiscal pressure is public works’ road maintenance budget, which was pounded as hard as the shoreline town was with heavy snow and a series of northeasters.

Now, the council is halting all non-essential expenditures and is looking at reducing the hours of some part-time employees to compensate. Beyond that, the council must draw up a plan to bring spending for those two items down, a task that already has divided the governing body.

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SEA BRIGHT: FIREWORKS MOVE ADDS PARKING

sb-fireworks1Sea Bright’s fireworks show is switching launch points this year, freeing up parking spaces for visitors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright will put on its traditional Independence Day fireworks display this weekend, but a change in where the sparklers will be launched should make for less hair-pulling at the wheel for visitors coming into town.

Normally fired from the beach at the site of the long-gone Peninsula House hotel, the fireworks will instead take flight from the Anchorage Club beach, a state-owned property just north of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge. The move was forced by beach erosion at the Peninsula House beach caused by a series of hard-hitting storms earlier this year, Mayor Maria Fernandes said.

The erosion makes shooting the fireworks from the customary location more dangerous because it would put the launch area too close to spectators, Fernandes said.

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THE BRIDGE TO SUMMER SUCCESS?

highlands-bridge1The state DOT has plans to ease traffic jams at the Sea Bright-Highlands bridge construction site this summer. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In 34 years doing business on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, Steve Garelli says he’s learned one thing when it comes to preparing for the summer rush, which is unofficially upon us this Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s all about the weather,” said Garelli, owner of Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch.

But in recent summers, Garelli, like many other business owners in the seaside hamlet, has learned one more thing: cranes and dump trucks can wipe out abundant sunshine rather quickly.

The construction of the Route 36 Highlands bridge, which connects Highlands to the Sea Bright/Sandy Hook peninsula and funnels traffic into the Gateway National Recreation Area, plagued local businesses last summer and wreaked havoc on motorists.

Now that the 65-foot high bridge is near completion — two lanes are operational, and two more are being added — local merchants are hopeful, but skeptical, that traffic will flow better, both on the road and in their stores this summer.

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SPARKS FLY OVER SEA BRIGHT BUDGET

murphy-fernandesCouncilman Read Murphy, in the foreground, got into a heated debate with Mayor Maria Fernandes, in the background, over the borough’s budget. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Before Sea Bright’s council adopted the borough’s budget Tuesday night, Mayor Maria Fernandes asked a question: Is it any smaller than the version introduced last month?

That’s all it took to trigger a rumpus with Councilman Read Murphy.

Murphy, known to shoot from the hip, took umbrage with Fernandes’s suggestion that the council could, and should, make any more reductions to the borough’s $5.16 million spending plan.

“We’ve cut all we can, mayor. Where do we go?” Murphy, a Republican, said. “You show me. You hit us a million times, ‘you should cut.’ Well show me.”

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SEA BRIGHT MAYOR WANTS SMALLER BUDGET

sea-bright-councilThe Sea Bright Borough Council, above, introduced the 2010-11 municipal budget Tuesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Sea Bright Borough Council unveiled i’s 2010-11 budget Tuesday, but it still isn’t quite up to snuff for Mayor Maria Fernandes.

She wants the $5.16 million fiscal plan trimmed by $90,000, which she says would equate to a zero increase for taxpayers.

That is on the municipal end of things, anyway.

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